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Just a few weeks ago, a (not-so) little slice of Chicago swung open its doors to show the entire city how cool a vintage athletic facility-turned-hotel can be. Housed in a pretty ornate building on South Michigan Avenue, the Chicago Athletic Association calls upon the 120- year history of being the place to swim, play basketball, fence or catch a few laps on the running track as well as making for one of the neatest hotels we've checked out.
We had an opportunity to explore the finished product of the massive project of transforming this landmark into a lifestyle hotel that might even attract the folks that used its facilities decade before.
Across the country, there are examples that show Four Seasons luxury properties trying to remain down to earth. Cheesesteak spring rolls in Philly, for example, or free drinks in Denver. But never have we seen a Four Seasons let its hair down the way it has in Santa Fe.
The tone at the Four Seasons Rancho Encantado Santa Fe is set immediately by two things: The setting and the staff. The former speaks for itself in terms of its location in the hills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains ten minutes outside of downtown Santa Fe. If you do any research at all, you expect that. I mean, the address is "198 State Road 592," after all. But do you expect to walk into a Four Seasons and see that the staff is all decked out in... jeans?
I enjoy a taste of luxury as much as anyone, but I was relieved the moment I arrived and saw the front desk crew wearing the same thing as me. It just made sense for Santa Fe, a destination where chile, chocolate, and lacing up your hiking boots are the main attractions. Dress up?! I ordered red chile!
One place that is quintessential Americana is our first and oldest National Park, Yellowstone. There are a handful of lodge-type accommodations in the park that boast uninterrupted views of mountains, lakes and some curious wildlife. Today, we bring you Lake Yellowstone Hotel, the butter-hued wooden building on the shores of the namesake glacial lake.
As part of its 120th birthday celebrations, the giant Colonial building is undergoing a facelift of which Phase 1 will be complete for the summer season. The majority of the hotel will see a modernization with the lobby, front desk, dining room and about half the rooms all getting a refreshed look. But one thing that will still be a unique feature is this vintage tour bus that takes guests to excursions around the lake. The White Model 706s are a blast from the early days of Yellowstone.
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Located on Pershing Square, the hotel was designed by the same firm as the Waldorf-Astoria, and its richly-decorated interiors are appropriately over-the-top.
For example, Rendezvous Court (which originally functioned as the main lobby) was inspired by a Spanish cathedral, and features vaulted wood ceilings, Italian travertine stone walls, and a bronze double staircase. The impressive space was even featured on a recent episode of Glee!
Wandering through the hotel's opulent ballrooms (there are four total), we came across a bizarre feature in the Gold Room, a large banquet room that's divided into an upper and lower half by a semi-circular balustrade. And at the far end of the room, we noticed that a small door had been left ajar. Not one to pass up the opportunity to act out an Indiana Jones scene, we peeked inside and realized (to our delight) that we had discovered a secret passageway leading to another part of the hotel!
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Ask anyone in Denver about the city's oldest hotel, and they'll either point you towards the Oxford Hotel or the Brown Palace (technically, the Oxford opened a year earlier, in 1891, but in our eyes, they're both pretty special). However, in terms of star power, we think the Brown Palace wins out.
The hotel, which recently became an Autograph Collection property in September, has hosted every president since Teddy Roosevelt, with the exception of Calvin Coolidge and Barack Obama. And on the ground floor, the room that Henry C. Brown (the hotel's founder) used as his office is now a kick-ass cigar lounge named Churchill, with a customized humidor of over 60 cigars.
But our favorite feature about the hotel is the thing you see above. It's a water fountain, yes, but the story goes deeper than that.
A few outstanding features of the room include: red brick walls, chains next to the bed, concrete floors, and a possible two-way mirror.
BoingBoing reports that when the man called to complain, he was told by the Front Desk that they'd made a mistake and that, in fact, "no one was supposed to use that room." Suspicious!
The St Julien in Boulder is no doubt a luxurious property (it's one of only two hotels in town to offer a spa), but we remember it for its outstanding location and killer views of the iconic Flatirons - one of the most recognizable rock formations on the front range of the Rockies in Colorado.
When gold was discovered in the mountains near Boulder in 1859, the town became a supply center for the new mining communities that began to pop up. A train ran from the center of town up into Boulder Canyon for almost forty years until 1919, and today the St Julien sits on the site of that old rail yard on Walnut Street between 9th and 10th. The Flatirons are located nearby in Chautauqua Park, and yes, you can hike up, in, and around the triangular rock faces.
The hotel is a block south of the restaurants and bars of Pearl Street and a five-minute walk from its four-block pedestrian mall. We found the entire experience to be welcoming on our visit last summer. We liked the accessibility to both the outdoors and the nightlife that came along with the comfortable accommodations. Check out the photo gallery below, and request a room (from $259 per night) on the south side with a balcony to take in the Flatiron views.
We recently stopped in San Luis Obispo on the California Coast to check out Granada Hotel & Bistro. It's about a three-hour drive from Los Angeles and we just got a sunroof in our car, so we thought, 'why the heck not?'
Thankfully, the place didn't disappoint. This 17-room boutique hotel is industrial chic and quite classy at the same time, housed in an original 1920s exposed-brick building, with the only rooftop patio and lounge in town. Rooms are gussied up with hardwood floors, exposed brick walls, nickle-plate fixtures, Fili d'Oro Italian linens, goose down dive and pillows, four balcony suites and some of the showers double up as steam baths. Fancy!
If you're looking for a hotel in a vintage building plopped in the middle of a culturally vibrant city? Yep, there's all at Hotel Banys Orientals in Barcelona. This el Born hotel is surrounded by historical buildings housing tapas restaurants, boutiques, cafes and tapas bars--it's enough character to fill a fiction novel.
There are 43 suites in Banys 18th-century building. The lofts have Gothic arches and exposed stone walls while maintaining a modern clean design, loads of natural light and comfy living space--a bonus in a city where rooms can be tiny. Our room happened to have a second story with a sitting room overlooking the main bedroom. All rooms either look onto the internal courtyard staircase or upon the pedestrian-only Carrer Argenteria.
It's Monday and just the right hour to take a minute and play Witty Wordsmith with us, whydontcha? That's right, it's time to Name.This.Caption!
We've all heard of those people. They get up at the break of dawn and go treasure hunting. Be we have never seriously seen anyone like this until we paid a visit to the Marriott Marco Island Resort Golf Club And Spa in Florida.
Our man was on a serious treasure hunt. He had all the accoutrements of someone who was an EXPERT at digging for diamonds, pearls, or whatever could be lurking underneath the golden sand of this south Florida haven. Now, he wasn't a nuisance, (we don't think) even with his handy dandy shovel, headphones and all kinds of tools. We were intrigued! And we were wondering if he'd be creating pot holes in the
lawn sand with his intense investigation. But nope, he seems to be a regular and no one bothers him much.
And that seems to be the way of life on Marco Island in particular, which we kind of like and will talk about more soon.
We didn't interrupt him and ask him what kind of booty he's been lucky enough to behold (that was probably a mistake on our part), but that's because we were trying to respect his hustle. Also, we didn't want him to think we were going to muscle in on his turf!
So, what's the caption for this "Diggin' for Silver Dollars?" "They Call Me The Trezhure Huntah" "Beach Bounty Hunter"? Yeah, you can def do bettah.
Help us out! Have a humorous hunch about what's happening here? Let us know in comments below!
[Photo: Chanize Thorpe for Hotel Chatter]
At first glance, you’re not sure what to look at when you go out onto the gorgeous patio of this suite at the Lion Sands Game Reserve at Sabi Sand in South Africa. The infinity pool is sure inviting, and during this time of the year when the temperatures can reach up to 90 degrees, you’d want to shed your khakis and take a quick dip.
But, what’s that lurking in the midst? It seems all is too quiet on the western front and you best keep your eyes peeled. After all, this is one of the most high-end safari experiences in Kruger National Park area and you didn't come here for nothing. In fact, this is the best time of the year to be on safari—the dry winter season.
So, this view is great and all, but surely there’s more to it than just grass?
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...the Sunset Tower Hotel.
What can only be described as one of the most thrilling events of last night's Golden Globe awards was President Bill Clinton taking to the stage and introducing a clip from "Lincoln", the nominated film from director Steven Spielberg.
It was apparently an unexpected appearance, and we're certain there were more than a few swooning ladies (and men) in the Beverly Hilton's International Ballroom.
So, we're even more delighted to come across this Instagram photo from the hotel saying "Proud to have Former Pres Clinton with us after the #goldenglobes last night."
Normally the STH is home to Vanity Fair's post-Oscar party, so we're not sure if there was a post GG soiree going on, but we're impressed with the prez's choice of digs (it's Jennifer Aniston's go-to) as it's full of character, moderately priced at around $300 a night, and a pretty class act, to boot.
[Photo: Sunset Tower/Instagram]